Ohio pioneer home in Coshocton’s Johnson Humrickhouse Museum (photo by Jim Vickers)

Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum, Coshocton

This small but impressive museum showcases thousands of items that belonged to two brothers who grew up in the area and other local families.

Step inside the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum in Roscoe Village — Coshocton’s restoration of the town that once stood along this stretch of the Ohio & Erie Canal — and you’re treated to artifacts that reflect cultures both near and far.

The room to the right of the lobby houses an incredible collection of baskets and beadwork from indigenous people of the American southwest. Upstairs, another gallery features interesting and elaborate artwork and weapons from Asia. Tying it all together are pieces that tell the story of Ohio, from Native American arrowheads and tool points to an area that displays items that were commonly part of a frontier home to exhibits that tell the story of the advertising-art industry, which blossomed in the Coshocton area in the late 1800s. (One of the more unusual exhibits showcases the Newark Holy Stones, which were pulled from the Newark Earthworks during the 1860s but have since been debunked as a hoax.)

The museum exists because of the generosity of David M. and John H. Johnson. Sons of a banker, the brothers grew up in the area in the 1800s and began collecting at a young age. (Their father even created a small museum for them at the family farm). After the Civil War, the brothers moved to Tacoma, Washington, where they lived most of their adult life. They were avid travelers, which fueled their penchant for acquiring interesting items.

“They never married. They never had a family. It was just the two of them traveling.” says Jennifer Bush, director of the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum.

Ultimately, the brothers chose to ensure their collection would live on by bequeathing 15,000 items to their hometown and asking that a museum be created in honor of their Johnson and Humrickhouse ancestors. That museum first opened in 1931 in a former schoolhouse Eventually, the institution needed a new home and had amassed additional donations from local families. The current building in Roscoe Village was dedicated in 1979, but a refresh that began in 2019 allowed the museum to update its look and approach to the stories it shares.

“Our plan was to make the museum a timeline that told the Johnson brothers’ story,” Bush says, “but also the Ohio story and the Coshocton story.” 

300 N. Whitewoman St., Coshocton 43812, 740/622-8710, jhmuseum.org